• (4.4) 16 reviews
  • MSRP: $1,528–$7,316
  • Body Style: Sport Utility
  • Combined MPG: 21-25
  • Engine: 130-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain: 4x4
  • Seats: 5
2002 Mazda Tribute

Our Take on the Latest Model 2002 Mazda Tribute

2002 Mazda Tribute Reviews

Vehicle Overview
Ford owns a controlling interest in Mazda, which accounts for the close kinship between the popular Ford Escape sport utility vehicle and the related Mazda Tribute. Both SUVs were introduced for the 2001 model year. Subtle styling differences can be seen between the two, and interior features are not identical.

Claimed to be the sportier member of the pair, Mazda’s car-based SUV has been attracting considerable interest. Available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the Tribute exhibits a conventional SUV profile. Changes for 2002 are minimal, apart from a reshaped gearshift lever, wiper-control stalk and the addition of a modular audio system. New front seats have separate, adjustable head restraints, and rub strips have been deleted from the Tribute’s roof rack.

Jointly developed by the two companies, the SUV is based on the front-drive platform of Mazda’s 626 sedan but is powered by Ford engines. Like the Escape, the Tribute is designed to lure buyers out of cars by offering the look of an SUV with carlike driving ease and the security of four-wheel drive. Neither model is considered to offer true offroad capability.

Though it has the same overall shape as the Escape, Mazda’s Tribute features a different grille, front fascia and headlamps, as well as unique exterior trim. Dimensions also are similar. The Tribute sits on a 103.1-inch wheelbase and has an overall length of 173 inches — 8 inches longer than the Toyota RAV4. The four-door SUV has a rear liftgate that includes a flip-up window.

The Tribute carries five occupants with twin bucket seats up front and a three-place seat in the rear. The folding rear seat on the LX and ES models expands cargo room from 17 cubic feet to a more useful 70 cubic feet. Leather upholstery and a power driver’s seat are standard on the top-of-the-line ES.

Under the Hood
Mazda offers the same powertrain choices as those of the Escape. The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 130 horsepower, while a 200-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 is optional. Only a five-speed-manual transmission is available with the four-cylinder engine, while a four-speed-automatic gearbox is used with the V-6. The Tribute can have front-wheel drive or a Ford four-wheel-drive system that engages automatically. Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags for the front seats are optional.

Driving Impressions
Mazda’s small SUV gets a mixed reaction, with its sporty nature earning the highest marks. Although it’s related to the Escape, more flaws surfaced while driving the Tribute than its Ford cousin. Noisier than some rivals, a test Tribute emitted a low growl from its driveline while accelerating at low speeds, as if sound insulation was lacking. Additionally, a touchy gas pedal made it difficult to start off with a smooth acceleration.

Energetic and overly eager, the throttle response is satisfying, automatic-transmission shifts are barely noticeable, and downshifts for passing and merging come swiftly. Steering with a somewhat light touch, the Tribute displays a floating sensation at times, feeling less than fully connected to the highway surface. Ride comfort is pleasing on the highway, but wavy pavement produces a lot of up-and-down motion. Around town, the Tribute aptly copes with bumps and holes and exhibits no raucous behavior.


Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2002 Buying Guide

Consumer Reviews


Average based on 16 reviews

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Excellent car! Has new tires,brakes,low mileage we

by Isles91 from Islip ny on October 11, 2017

This vehicle has served our family very well! Both of my children have used it to get to their respective schools and it has been a very reliable car. Mechanic owned so it has been serviced regularly!

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6 Trims Available

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Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2002 Mazda Tribute trim comparison will help you decide.

Mazda Tribute Articles

2002 Mazda Tribute Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports


There are currently 10 recalls for this car.

Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $5,000 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained


Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.


Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

Roadside Assistance

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

Other Years